In an open letter published Monday, a group of Time’s Up staffers and clients slammed the organization for betraying its values.
Launched in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement, Time’s Up was founded to hold powerful men like film executive Harvey Weinstein accountable for sexually abusing women. From the outset, its prominence stemmed from the support it received from Hollywood heavy-hitters like super-producer Shonda Rhimes, and A-list actresses such as Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano, Eva Longoria, and Nicole Kidman.
But now, some of the non-famous women connected to the group claim the decision of two Time’s Up leaders — CEO Tina Tchen and co-founder Roberta Kaplan — to help embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo discredit an accuser is proof Time’s Up cares more about power than helping women.
“We write to you as a collective group of survivors and victims who believe Time’s Up is failing the survivor community,” the letter, organized by activist and sexual assault survivor Alison Turkos, begins. It continues, “We believed in your mission and hoped that your investment in eradicating sexual assault and harassment in the workplace would change the tide to support us as we came forward, but we are disappointed. Time’s Up has abandoned the very people it was supposed to champion. The board continues to fail to heed the outcry from survivors. Time’s Up is failing all survivors.”
The letter then goes on to detail the findings of New York Attorney General Letitia James that Tchen and Kaplan advised Cuomo’s office on an op-ed that would have discredited former aide Lindsey Boylan’s claims that Cuomo touched her inappropriately. The signers claim Tchen and Kaplan “weaponized victims’ experiences” on behalf of Cuomo.
In a scathing section, they also accuse the pair of betraying abuse victims:
Instead of helping survivors remain at the center of our own stories, we find out in the press that you were consulted by abusers to aid them in victim-blaming and undermining our ability to come forward. This behavior harms all survivors. This behavior discourages survivors from seeking support and speaking out and causes ripples of distrust felt throughout our movement. This behavior has us questioning who we can truly trust. Whether or not you agreed to help, perpetrators of harm felt comfortable reaching out to you for crisis management. That is a problem …
Time’s Up is deceiving survivors. You asked us to come to you and trust you with our stories and our cases. We trusted that you had our best interests at heart. We trusted that what you said in public would match the support we’d receive in private. Survivors are so often let down by the system of justice in this country, and it is heartbreaking to see that Time’s Up has become a willing participant in that never-ending labyrinth. The pattern of your behavior shows you do not deserve our trust any longer without serious structural changes.
Finally, the letter finishes, “Decision-makers at TIME’S UP continue to align themselves with abusers at the expense of survivors. TIME’S UP should be ashamed.”
Kaplan, who is also a prominent attorney, resigned as chairwoman of Time’s Up’s board Monday in the wake of the scandal. In an email to The New York Times, she called it “a sad day,” adding, “I will so miss time spent with this board and our sisterhood. Going forward, I hope they will be able to stick together and continue this important work.”
For her part, Tchen said in a statement that the organization believes Kaplan’s resignation is the right move and said, “We are counting on our sisters and allies not to lose sight of the broader work and let a man’s treachery be overshadowed in any way. We do not ask for a pass. We ask for perspective.”
Production assistant Lauren Weingarten told The Hollywood Reporter she was sad to discover that the organization that helped her successfully settle a suit with CBS had compromised its values.
“I was saddened but not shocked [by the Cuomo revelation],” she said. “We come to Time’s Up when we’re at our most vulnerable and they clearly don’t have the backs of survivors.”
This isn’t the first time in its relatively short existence Time’s Up has been accused of betraying its mission on behalf of powerful allies, however. In April, insiders told The Daily Beast they believed the organization was “losing its way.” As proof, they pointed to rumors Tchen persuaded megadonor Oprah Winfrey to pull out of a documentary that explored allegations of sexual misconduct against legendary music producer Russell Simmons.
One victim involved with Time’s Up told the outlet Tchen pressured her to walk away from the project as well.
“Tina Tchen said to me on the phone the night Oprah backed out of the film, ‘The filmmakers are bad people’ and when I disagreed with her she said, ‘You have to trust me on this,’” the source said, adding, “She implied that Time’s Up would support me as a survivor, but only if I backed away from the film.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, to date, none of the high-profile celebrities who have publicly supported the group have commented on the Cuomo revelations or previous allegations of Time’s Up conflicts of interest.
In the wake of the letter and a rash of negative headlines in the press, Time’s Up leadership appears to be carrying on with its star-studded, upscale activities. The Cape Cod Times reported last week that the organization would be on hand at a Martha’s Vineyard film festival to host a private luncheon about “women’s roles and how they can work together for change.”
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